Susurrus

Episode III
A New Voice

A Novel by Rory Tillitson

CHAPTER ONE

Return to normal?





A large sailboat is sailing through the clear blue waters of the south pacific. On board Mitch Torrance and his companion Sally Runyon are lazing about. He in a hammock at the stern of the ship, she is laying in the sun on the roof of the cabin.

Sally looks up at Mitch, she is in love with this handsome man, even though having only known him for a short few weeks. She gazes at his lean body, all six feet of it, a curly shock of never combed dirty blond hair, framing a handsome face marred by a scar along his chin. Sally thinks,”You are the love of my life, and yet I know almost nothing about you... who are you really?”

Mitch opened his eyes feeling as though he was being watched. He slowly rose up and looked at Sally. She was looking at him directly. Mitch thought,”Ah... such a beautiful woman! I never thought anyone would come into my life again... much less such a gorgeous woman.” He looked at this vision of loveliness, she was about five feet five, her medium length brown hair hung down around an oval face with a slightly turned up nose, large blue eyes, all above lush kissable lips. She had the body of an aerobics instructor and he was deeply in love with this woman.

They had just dropped their friends off at Kingston, on the island of Norfolk, and were returning to Sydney to get more goods that they carry to smaller islands. This was what Mitch did not that he needed to as they had enough money to last several lifetimes. This due to the fact that Sally had brought a large amount of cash aboard the boat to get her father released from kidnappers. The kidnapping had been a setup and had ended in her father's death.

Then a voice said,”Captain... we have arrived... Captain... we have arrived...” Mitch said,”Sue... I got it... thanks.” Motors were whirring away as the sails were stored away and the anchor was lowered into the sea.

The Susurrus. A fifty-nine foot, single hulled sloop with an eighty foot mast is completely controlled by a computer. The steel hulled boat designed and built by Mitch. He also wrote the software for the computer this allowed him to give a way-point in latitude and longitude and the computer sails the boat using inputs from wind gauges, GPS, two radar units, and side scanning sonar, among other devices.

Mitch wrote the software that the computer uses to tack or jibe as needed to maintain a given course. The program uses pressure inputs on the sails, and controls sail tension with motorized winches. While avoiding obstacles such as land masses and boating traffic.

Mitch climbed out of the hammock in his white shorts and was looking around at Sydney harbor. He stepped over to the deck control console and flipped a switch turning off the computer control. He raised the anchor as he started the diesel engine. He was joined by Sally in her usual flowered bikini as he steered the boat over to the dock.

They both were looking at the blackened dock where Jerry Price's boat had burned. They had the dock lines tied off and were walking up to his truck. Mitch said,”Well... I hope it starts... it's been sitting for some time.” They were then approached by the harbor master,”Hey mate... long time 'eh?”

Mitch answered,”Yes... it has been a while since we were here... how are you?” The harbor master said,”Well I suppose better now... still haven't been able to put Jerry's slip up for rent.” Mitch said,”No worries mate... add it to my account, I'll pay for both spaces... OK?” The harbor master said,”You don't need to do that.”

Mitch just said,”Yes... yes I do... Jerry gave his life for me... the least I can do is honor him.” The harbor master didn't understand, but said,”OK mate, if that's what you want... it's fine by me.” Mitch said,”We'll stop by the office later to settle up... that alright with you?” The harbor master nodded. They started the truck and were off into the city.

They stopped at several wholesalers, bought bags of flour, salt and several cases of canned goods and were having a late lunch at a small café. Sally said,”After we drop the supplies... can we do some shopping?” Mitch finishing his meal said,”Sure thing... we won't leave till tomorrow... we'll go back load the flour and other goods... then we can shop before dinner... how's that sound?” Sally said,”That would be great... when I came through Sydney... well... there was no time to do anything.” Mitch laughed,”Well... why don't we spend a couple of days then. You can see a little of ozzieland.”

Mitch and Sally went back and after almost two hours of loading the goods aboard. Then they were driving around the Sydney area. Over the next two days, Sally got to see all the various attractions saying,”I have to admit the opera house... while I'm not an opera fan... it was much more impressive up close.” Mitch laughed,”Sweetheart... I'm sure they have more than opera shows there... probably most of the worlds entertainers have been on the stage.”

They also went to several of the shops around the city. Mitch bought some scented candles, and sachet packages for the boat, as well as a new skillet, and two cast iron camping pots. He also found a large stainless steel barbeque, that could be mounted to the stern handrail. Sally bought some new bikinis and a few flowered dresses. After returning to the boat on the second evening. He had Sally cast off the dock lines. He started the diesel. Then they were heading out of the harbor and into the open ocean.

Mitch said, “Sue.” The computer voice came from speakers on deck and in the salon saying, “Aye... Aye, captain.” Mitch said, “Set course for way-point twenty-nine degrees, four minutes south latitude, one, six, seven degrees, forty-eight minutes east longitude, mark; twenty-nine degrees four minutes south latitude, one, six, seven degrees, fifty-eight minutes east longitude, set sail, drop the anchor at way point.” The computer replied, “Aye... Aye captain... Set course for way-point twenty-nine degrees, four minutes south latitude, one, six, seven degrees, forty-eight minutes east longitude, mark; twenty-nine degrees four minutes south latitude, one, six, seven degrees, fifty-eight minutes east longitude, set sail, drop the anchor at way point.”

Motors began to hum as the winches hoisted the mainsail, and unrolled the jib. The ship's wheel turned the rudder to place them on a course for Norfolk island. Then they were moving at twelve knots, and the boat was tacking every half hour as they were heading just off a head wind. The two could also hear the ballast pumps running as the water was being pumped from side to side. There are two four hundred gallon tanks on each side of the boat below decks, with pumps that transferred the water to the high side of the boat, to help keep the big sailboat as level as possible.

Mitch was below in the large salon at the starboard galley area. Where he was cutting up some potatoes to boil. Sally joined him sitting at the massive six-foot wide, four-inch thick, twelve-foot long mahogany table. She commented,”Looks like the wind has shifted... we haven't tacked for some time.”

Mitch had washed one of the new cast iron pots. Because it had three small feet for a campfire, those helped it catch on the stove burner. He put some water along with salt to boil and began to sear a small chuck roast in a skillet. Once the roast was browned on each side. He cut it up in bite sized pieces and tossed that along with the potatoes in the boiling water. He then added some carrot chunks, onions, and spices then covered it with its lid. He added several heavy lead fishing weights in the recessed lid for safety and sat down.

Sally got up and poured two glasses of Pepsi with some ice for the two of them saying,”You continue to amaze me... I thought you were losing it... buying those pots... silly me.”

Some time later. He tasted the stew for salt and satisfied he turned off the heat, and plated two dishes of beef stew. Sally tasted a bite saying,”This is great... I would never think of this to cook at sea... Very good!” They ate the meal and after Sally had cleaned up. Mitch put some smooth jazz music on the speakers and they were up on deck sitting on the stern bench looking at the star filled sky above. They never got tired of the night view. As it seemed that more stars came out the farther they were from land. Almost as if they could reach out and grab some.

Sally got up. She was doing an impromptu dance on the deck. She slowly dropped her dress to the deck and Mitch said,”Enough.” He picked her up and they were in the master cabin on the queen sized water-bed. Some time later they were asleep.

The early morning light coming in the window above the queen-sized water-bed filled the aft cabin. Mitch awoke went to the bulkhead sink, and brushed his teeth, splashed some water in his face. Then went through the passageway to the galley. Paused at the nav station to check for alerts and seeing none. He proceeded to make a pot of coffee. He was then joined by Sally and the two watched the pot until Mitch could pour two cups of the hot drink. Sally said,”Do you have any idea what time it is?” Mitch swallowed,”Just after dawn... rosy light coming through the windows above the couch.”

Then the computer, Sue crackled,”Captain... we have arrived... Captain... we have arrived...” Mitch said,”Sue... I got it... thanks.” They both were listening to motors whirring as the sails were stored away and the anchor was being lowered into the sea.



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